Health and Fitness

Consciousness and Artificial Intelligence

I was asked to study Searle and Lycan for one of my philosophy classes and analyze their different perspectives. The two philosophers are interested in whether or not an artificial intelligence is genuinely capable of being conscious. For many, a fully conscious robot (in the human sense) sounds absurd, but arguing either angle is complex. Defining and justifying consciousness is a difficult task since it is a private condition. Searle uses the "Chinese room argument" to demonstrate that artificial intelligence is incapable of genuine consciousness. In the analogy, a non-Chinese speaking person is locked in a room with an instruction manual for decoding Chinese letters. People from outside the room pass Chinese letters to the person inside, and the person inside "communicates" with them. The people outside may conclude the person inside speaks Chinese, but they would be wrong; the person inside only appears to understand Chinese. Searle equates this deception to the capabilities of artificial intelligence and maintains genuine consciousness is a biological characteristic.

Exploring Selfishness

For a philosophy class, i was asked to investigate moral qualities of selfishness. Psychological egoism is the theory that all human beings are selfish by nature. While this idea potentially explains the general instincts of people, is it sufficient in justifying our behavior? Ethical egoism relies on the validity of psychological egoism in that it proposes selfishness is our right, as well as a means to maintaining morals. Although both theories afford some criticism, I believe we all have the right to be selfish, and a general moral guide can be derived from ethical egoism. Tara Smith tackles the issue of whether or not people are obligated to help each other. Smith claims any obligation to the welfare of other people "would require infringing on the liberty rights of others." In other words, if the ultimate goal is human welfare, infringing on someone else's happiness to satisfy another's is only diverting the problem, not solving it. Smith goes onto to say, "Requiring a company owner to employ someone or requiring a worker to finance others' health care compels that person to act against her will in the same way that an outlaw compels his victim to act against her will in the hold up.

Interpreting Plato's Cave

In Plato's Allegory, prisoners are chained, completely motionless in a cave, and shadows of puppets are cast on the walls. The prisoners are unaware of the actual cause of the shadows and believe the shadows are unique, independent entities. But one of the prisoners is let free and discovers the true source of the shadows. He ventures out of the cave and into the world above where he is confronted with nature and the sun. Thereafter, he is compelled to return to the cave and share what he has learned. His eyesight must readapt to the darkness, so initially the other prisoners assume the light has ruined his vision; he appears incompetent, and his knowledge of a considerably more accurate reality will seem ridiculous. Plato's cave is a profound allegory with many interpretations, and the following is only what I believe it may represent. Plato uses the shadows on the wall to illustrate the limits of human knowledge. The depths of the cave represent a realm of less intelligence and understanding.

The Role of Skepticism

Throughout our lives we are faced with vital questions, and it is important how we come to believing in the things we do. Reason is concerned with truth, and can stand to be humble; it can acknowledge its limits and appreciate the unknown. Faith is concerned with fidelity, making it stubborn and unchanging. But it is with both Reason and Faith that our beliefs are shaped; there is a relationship between the two, but Reason is the superior mode of thinking. Reasoning requires a level of skepticism because sometimes Reason forces us to reconsider our ideologies. For example, my belief that two plus two equals four is founded on Reason; however, if a mathematician could logically demonstrate that in some cases two and two does not make four, I would reconsider my convictions. But if it were Faith that led me to my conclusion (that two plus two is four), then I would hold the mathematician's demonstration as irrelevant or wrong; it is this obstinate quality that makes Faith potentially irresponsible and Reason the superior foundation for beliefs.

The Objectivity of Science

Science shapes our views and opinions of the world and universe, but the objectivity and reliability of science is debatable. Methods of testing are often biased or too sloppy to be reliable. Two of the most influential philosophers of science, Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, highlight potential flaws concerning the integrity of science. Karl Popper believed a scientific inquiry was genuine if the theory could potentially be proven wrong - if it was falsifiable. For example, he maintained that Einstein's theory of relativity was a genuine theory because, although evidence actually confirmed its accuracy, the theory was formulated in such a way that it could have been proven wrong had the evidence suggested otherwise. On the other hand, theories like those of Marx are not falsifiable, and Popper refers to them as pseudo-sciences because practically any data found in relation to them can be construed as proper evidence. In the case of Marx, Karl Popper explains "A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history.

The Age of Decadence

All forms of beauty contain a once of phenomena intertwined within them. When Picasso came into the picture, the ordinary and traditional went out the window; in addition, it was a period F. Scott Fitzgerald coined as "The Jazz Age, " and he wrote a book called that, but the book really has little to do with Jazz (although the sound involved also), he was implying moreso, I think, here is a new age (after WWI). This was repeated with Elvis, and with the Hippie Age, or New Age, or Generation. Prior to this was the Beat Generation, with Ginsberg, and his cronies; and most recent was the Yuppie Generation. Now we see these past traditions are over, and the world is looking for a tradition not yet found. I could call it the Age of Decadence, and I'd be pretty much right on the target. Life is not as valuable as it used to be, that is one aspect of this new epic, aspect appearing on the horizon. When I travel to the many countries I do, I see this in all forms of social behavior with the young in particular, and they are becoming very rude to the elders more interested in laziness-and being fed.

Hermes - The Liminal God And The Tricky History Of The Hermetic Tradition

The basis for Hermetics and Hermeticism is the Greek god Hermes, also known by his Roman name Mercury. Hermes is one of the most interesting and diverse of the gods. He is also one of the trickiest and hardest to pin down. That's why I call him the liminal god. Since Hermes is, among many other things, the god of the crossroads -one of his symbols is a rock defining boundaries- liminal is an apt word to describe him. Hermes is a messenger, a trickster, protector of travelers, a thief, a guide for souls after death and an orator. Many of these roles are related to the theme of boundaries. Connecting the living and the dead is an obvious example of this, as well as his association with travel and delivering messages for the other gods. He is also an expert at persuasion and oration, and his words are not necessarily true in the literal sense. In this regard he could be conceived as the god of lawyers. Or, to go back to the Platonic dialogues, where Socrates differentiates between true philosophy and sophistry, Hermes would seem to epitomize the latter.

Some Reflections on Teleology

Does life have a purpose? Does the Universe or God have a "plan" for humanity or for itself? These are questions of teleology. The word comes from the Greek telos, which means end or goal. Teleology was a subject discussed at great length by Aristotle and by philosophers ever since. At first glance, we might say that most people have always taken for granted that life has a purpose. Until the scientific age, the vast majority of people followed some religion or another. Even today, only a small minority are hardcore atheists or materialists. Yet, is believing in some higher power really the same thing as teleology? It is a complex question, but I would say it isn't quite the same. Teleology seems to imply some kind of movement or evolution. Aristotle, writing in the pre-Christian era, spoke of an Unmoved Mover, a kind of impersonal force towards which everything was being pulled. If you think of it in a very literal sense -going back to telos referring to an end or goal- then any spiritual belief falls under the rubric of teleology.

Is Death A Choice Or A Fate?

People die, but is that something they had made as a choice? Or is it the other way round of having fate choose us the death. The only single perennial truth of our existence is, that we perish. Our choices falters. Choosing to die or fated to die, doesn't epitomize our existence though! But, it has a literal subjugation we earthling might want or think to ponder upon. So is it possible to denote death with either a choice or the fate, since we die at the end. Death is just an end of the journey we didn't choose for ourselves. We took birth, but was it our choice? Certainly not, maybe our parents choice! So how can one call the death which is the other essential dichotomized end of Birth, to be a choice. Did you really choose your death or is it possible to choose that you can choose your death. Maybe you can time your actions that can lead to your Death. That is solely your choice. But at what point of time from then, will you die is totally a Fate's work. It's all written.

Truth And Its Existence

The Truth is : Truth never exists. Sounds obfuscating but irony of living in a real world makes it true. So how does one go defining Truth? A truth for you doesn't necessitate that it is a truth for a person who wants to view it as false. Truth is subjective as well as relative! It has a start and hence has the ability to have an end as well. The dichotomy of Truth can bring out the pervasive anomalies of how things can appear different for the same context. Take for an instance, I intent to tell people that am honest person, but how do you make it a truthful description of yours? Well, your actions plays a major role here. The way you respond, the way you want to communicate can eventually lead to what people can perceive it as a global truth, at least for the life span each truth has. Yet another dissection of properties of the truth. Since it is subject and is relative, as I would rather view it as. It has to have Time period as well. The idea of bringing about the truth in one's life is way beyond generalizing the concept of Truth.

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